Housing subsidies can prevent homelessness for poor families. A national random assignment study showed that provision of housing subsidies to families receiving public assistance reduced subsequent homelessness by 74 percent (Wood et al., 2008). This analysis took into account the fact that not all families that were offered vouchers utilized them for a lease. Cross-city studies of rates of subsidized housing and rates of homelessness have mixed results. Some researchers find clear benefits to subsidies (Mansur et al, 2002); others do not, perhaps because housing subsidies are not well targeted to those in need of them (Early, 1998, 2004; Early & Olsen, 2002).
Other studies of prevention of family homelessness with strategies such as eviction prevention are poorly designed and lack comparison groups so it is difficult to tell how much they help (e.g., Shinn, Baumohl, & Hopper, 2001). New York City has funded an experimental evaluation of its community-based prevention services, but the dependent variable will be prevention of shelter entry, with the possible addition of information on child protective services. Only record data, no interview data with parents or children, will be included.